Debate 36 - Influencing Copenhagen

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 | Debates

What can we do between now and then – a built environment perspective ?

The need for dramatic carbon cuts is coming. Kyoto has 50 months to run and there is no replacement yet in place. Copenhagen in 15 months’ time will becrucial in this schedule for agreeing a new framework, new targets and an acceptable form of burden sharing.

Influencing Copenhagen

Influencing Copenhagen

And this December the UK’s new Committee on Climate Change will publish its first report and may recommend tougher new UK targets. What can we do? The 2006 Stern Review was based on a limit of 550ppm CO2 eq; now Stern in 2008* is calling for 450ppm. Jim Hansen calls for 350ppmv but at 380ppmv we have already overshot. A recent Guardian article quotes a New Economics Foundation study which gives the world 100 months to reverse the buildup of CO2.

What should the UK be doing? Given the trajectories of developing countries, especially China, Stern (2008) calls for 80-90% reductions in CO2 in developed countries by 2050 (500 months); this implies a step-change in action compared with the 60% reduction currently embodied in the Climate Change Bill. It means radical decarbonisation of the power, fuel, industry and transport sectors. But, unless these sectors could achieve 100% decarbonisation, much more fundamental changes will be required in the built environment, to compensate for shortfalls elsewhere . If the UK(the second largest emitter in the EU) is to be credible in the lead-up to Copenhagen, then it will need to show that these changes are feasible: this debate is about asking what should be our plan for demonstrating this ?

The conversation was kicked off by Prof Peter Guthrie (University of Cambridge) and Chris Beauman (European Bank of Reconstruction).

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